With how American cities and towns are constructed, using a vehicle for everyday travel is almost necessary. Fortunately, cars on the road today are more equipped to last longer than 20 years ago.
As a result, more and more people are approaching and surpassing the 100,000-mile marker on the odometer. The average vehicle lifespan over the past 20 years has increased by four years-jumping from eight in 2000 to nearly 12 in 2020, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Since Americans drive an average of nearly 13,500 miles per year, what actions can be taken to keep a vehicle running smoothly as the number on the odometer increases?
Keep reading to discover actionable tips to keep your vehicle running efficiently when the odometer passes 100,000 miles.
Stay On Top of Routine Maintenance
The best way to keep a vehicle running efficiently for years and potentially even decades is to stay diligent with routine maintenance. Every vehicle will have its regular maintenance schedule. Consult the owner's manual to see when your vehicle should be serviced. However, some owner's manuals may not list service intervals past 120,000 miles.
Getting ahead of issues before they arise may keep your car running longer than you expect. Check out our 100k mile maintenance checklist to help your vehicle last longer.
The vehicle's oil is one of the most important parts to keep the car running efficiently. As the miles tick up on the odometer, oil maintenance becomes more imperative. Vehicle owners tend to neglect regular oil changes, but you should address oil changes as recommended in the owner's manual if you want the vehicle to last a long time.
While each vehicle may have different mile requirements to change the oil, it's recommended to address it every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. However, if the vehicle takes full-synthetic motor oil, the car may go 15,000 miles before servicing is needed.
As the vehicle approaches 100,000 miles (around 75,000 miles or so), switching to high-mileage oil may help the vehicle's longevity.
Various fluids within a vehicle are essential to keeping it running smoothly and efficiently. While the oil may be one of the most important components, the other fluids should not be taken lightly. Some of the key fluids to keep an eye on include:
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Windshield wiper fluid
If any of those fluids are low, you should top them off. However, if those fluids are extremely low, it's recommended to check to ensure that there are no leaks in the tanks or hoses. If a leak is causing a rapid decrease in fluid, address it immediately to avoid further damage.
Like the other internal and external components of the vehicle, proper care of your tires may help the vehicle drive smoothly for a longer time. Proper care includes rotating them when necessary, ensuring they're inflated at the correct pressure, and replacing them periodically.
The tires support a lot of the other components in the vehicle. For example, tires in good shape will put less stress on the suspension system. Not only do properly inflated tires and good tread help the vehicle, but they can also aid in avoiding a collision.
Filters and belts
Like low fluids, clogged-up filters may provide premature damage to the vehicle. One way to stay on top of this is to check the filters frequently. If the filter looks noticeably dirty or worn out, it's recommended to replace them. The same can be said for belts, clamps, or hoses.
While all the parts in a vehicle work together to accomplish a common task, the engine is the lifeblood of it all. Failure to take proper care of the engine may result in the vehicle not lasting as long as expected. One way to keep the engine in good shape is to use engine treatment products. It may help eliminate the buildup of unwanted sludge. As a result, the engine may provide less vibration, run more efficiently, and perform better.
Proper battery care
If the engine is the vehicle's lifeblood, the battery is the glue that keeps it all together. Without a properly running battery, the vehicle will fail to start, which would be essentially useless. Taking care of the battery is always important, but routine maintenance with high-mileage vehicles is crucial. A few things can be done at home to clean up the battery. Some of those actions may include:
- Eliminate corrosion from the top of the battery and nearby cables using a non-metallic brush and a combination of baking soda and water.
- While the first step may get some of the battery's corrosion, there may still be some left. If that is the case, detach the battery cables and use a post cleaner to eliminate supplemental corrosion that may have built up around the terminals or cables.
- As mentioned before, fluids are essential to having an operating vehicle. The same can be said for the electrolyte level in the battery. The electrolyte level should be filled enough that the cell plates are submerged. However, some manufacturers may recommend that the water level be 1/4 inch below the filled wall.
- Another great way to stay on top of battery maintenance is to obtain a battery maintainer to observe the battery's voltage.
Keep the Car Clean
Aside from providing the high-mileage car with routine maintenance, keeping it clean may help stretch the vehicle's lifespan. While regular washes to the exterior may help prevent rust and help remove contaminants, that is only one small component of keeping the car clean.
Maintaining a clean car, especially the undercarriage, is important because the car may be exposed to road salt during the winter months. Regular interior vacuuming to remove unwanted dirt, dust and sand may help prevent premature wear and tear on the vehicle.
Restrain From Short Drives (If Possible)
For high-mileage vehicles, short trips may put additional stress on the vehicle. Short drives allow water to build up in the engine and the exhaust system. As a result, rust may start to appear, and sludge may build up in the engine. While short drives are almost impossible to avoid for some individuals, try running all errands simultaneously. This will allow the vehicle to return to the optimal operating temperature.
Treat Your Vehicle Like Family
While most modern vehicles on the road today are designed to last a long time, taking proper care may help the car reach its full potential at higher miles. To achieve the most out of the high-mileage vehicle, it's important to stay on top of routine maintenance, keep the car clean and avoid short-distance drives.
Owning a vehicle for a long time increases the opportunity for a collision. In the event you were in a collision, our wonderful technicians at Gerber Collision are happy to help. We offer windshield replacement and repair, auto body repair, hail damage repair, and paintless dent repair. Contact Gerber Collision at 1-877-743-7237 or schedule an appointment through our online portal.